I have a definite food style. I know right away just looking at a dish if I’m going to like it. This is why I love food blogs and I can practically taste the food as I look at it.
Before I found this recipe last summer, I had never eaten a bowl of split pea soup. I was browsing one of my mother’s many cookbooks, and I stopped at a picture of split pea soup with portobello mushrooms in a Food and Wine publication. I quickly took note that there was no ham. It was always the ham that kept me away from split peas. I like ham sandwiches once in a while, but I’m not a ham “and” fan. Ham and eggs or ham and beans, etc. So split pea soup with ham just never appealed to me, but I could tell right away that the portobello mushrooms would be an excellent meaty vegetarian option for this classic soup.
For several weeks I would say to my mom, “I’m making split pea soup.” She would say, “Don’t forget to call me, I love split pea soup, but you have to make croutons.“ So my mother informs me that there are some rules to split pea soup. No one eats split pea soup without croutons.
For about a week I started preparing myself to delve into this soup. I bought the split peas and they sat in the bags for a week staring at me. The next week I brought home portobello mushrooms and I was committed. But then the weather got even hotter outside. So in a 99% humidity southern, summer day, I made this gorgeous, green, hearty soup. But, I’ve been waiting for a really cold day to bring it to you, with croutons, of course.
Recipe (adapted from 1998 Food and Wine, Quick From Scratch Italian)
Split Pea Soup with Portobello Mushrooms
2 cups green split peas
9 cups water
2 Onions, diced
2 Carrots, diced
2 Celery ribs, diced
Handful of lemon basil OR fresh tarragon
4 tablespoons olive oil
3 garlic cloves, diced, 1 garlic clove for croutons
lemon juice of 1/2 lemon and lemon zest
1 pound portobello mushrooms, diced (no stems)
dash crushed red pepper
2 teaspoons sea salt, divided
grated pecorino to top soup
In heavy bottom soup pot sauté carrots, onions, garlic in some olive oil until soft about 5 minutes.
Add peas, herbs, lemon juice, zest and water. Reduce heat until peas are tender about 35 minutes. Add 1 1/2 salt, simmer 5 more minutes. Remove bay leaf. Adjust liquid level.
Take crusty bread, cut into large chunky cubes, brush LIGHTLY with olive oil, roast at 400 until crispy. Remove from oven and immediately rub with garlic.
Sauté mushrooms in olive oil 5-10 minutes season with 1/2 teaspoon salt, add to soup.
Serve with croutons and grated pecorino cheese.